After Spring Break, St. Joseph kindergarteners proceeded to Room 8, carrying precious items for reasons they understood. The room was dark except for a tall Easter candle, every symbol on which they also understood.
“The Procession of Light is our way of celebrating what they actually do at the Easter Vigil,” said Judy Rohr, who leads the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS) program for St. Joseph School.
The students placed their items on the prayer table, read readings, sang songs, and one by one received a lit candle with the instructions, “Receive the light of the Risen Christ.”
After the ceremony came the wonder: Now that you receive the light of Christ what will you do with it?
“The students loved it,” St. Joseph kindergarten teacher Natalie Mahoney said. “They felt a sense of pride being able to participate in such a wonderful part of the church.”
The CSG is an innovative way for young children to ponder the life of Christ. Currently, St. Joseph offers Level I and Level II, which covers preschool through second grade. Mrs. Rohr, a retired St. Joseph teacher better known as “Miss Judy”, not only leads this powerful program, she made much of the material used by the students.
“There is a lot of hands-on, but we’re also reading stories directly from the Bible,” Mrs. Rohr said. “I’m not watering them down, even for the four-year-olds. They are hearing exactly what’s being said, so they know these are God’s words or Jesus’ words.”
There are two classrooms specially prepared and set aside for these weekly lessons called “The Atrium”. Room 8 is for Level I students and Room 4 is for Level II students.
“The Atrium is a special place,” Ms. Mahoney said. “The students can come into the Atrium to explore their own relationship with God and speak with God on their own terms.”
Mrs. Rohr notes a great capacity in these young Christians, especially when they take their time with scripture.
“There are kids who can quote a verse to me,” Mrs. Rohr said. “It’s not because I ask them to memorize it, they just keep hearing it. If there is something you can quote, you have something to live by.”
Recently, when Mrs. Rohr explained the women wanted to anoint the body of Jesus with myrrh, a first-grader asked, “Myrrh? Isn’t that what the three wise men brought Jesus?”
“See what’s happening?” Mrs. Rohr said. “All these stories are intertwining. I just want them to fall in love with Jesus, but to fall in love with him, you got to know him.”
And they are.
“My second-graders want to know if they can come as third-graders,” Mrs. Rohr said.
Their request is easy to understand.
“This program is wonderful,” Ms. Mahoney said. “Each week the students and I look forward to having our time in the Atrium. Miss Judy has done a phenomenal job creating a space where students are invited to hear God’s words and learn about the church.”